|Barack Obama Presidential Campaign Website Success Secrets
by Michael Dorausch, DC
Los Angeles, CA: News reports earlier this week suggested that the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign Website (barackobama.com) is receiving more internet traffic than any other 2008 Presidential Campaign website. While the most common conclusion for this would be that the Illinois Senator is the most popular of candidates, it's important not to rule out the effectiveness of a well-planned out Search Engine Optimization strategy, commonly known amongst Internet professionals and marketers as "SEO."
Santa Barbara, California is hosting a visit from the senator today, with a massive fund-raising event at the Montecito estate of Oprah Winfrey. The weekend blitz through Northern California will likely result in even more visitors to the already popular website. For weekend fun here in Southern California, Planet Chiropractic decided to look behind the scenes on three presidential candidate web sites, to uncover any secrets, that may be enhancing or inhibiting their success.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not likely a topic one is typically going to associate with a successful presidential campaign. I'm of the opinion that best practices use of SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) will be a critical factor in the 2008 presidential election.
Rather than rely on data provided earlier this week in other news media, I incorporated independent data from Quantcast, a website popularity and analytics company, for the numbers you'll view below. The three 2008 presidential candidate web sites we are going behind the scenes on include: barackobama.com, hillaryclinton.com, and ronpaul2008.com. These three were selected as currently being the most popular of all the presidential candidate web sites for the 2008 election, according to my research performed earlier.
For each of these web sites, Quantcast provides details such as overall ranking (as compared to a YouTube.com or eBay.com), US demographics such as gender, age, household income, ethnicity, level of education for head of household, and data on children ages 6 - 17 in the household. Click through on each of the website snapshots to view details related to that particular site.
Besides data from Quantcast, I included PageRank (aka PR) for each site. PR is basically a zero to 10 scoring system (the higher the number, the better) developed at Stanford University by Larry Page and used by Google to measure the relative importance of a particular web page. While some in the world of SEO claim PR has little relevance, I feel it can be useful at times as a good indicator of web site strength.
The Barack Obama web site is the first on our list since it is indeed the most popular. The people working the backend of the Obama web site are incorporating a number of techniques, that are likely helping the web site to rank better, and appear more frequently, in search engine results. SEO teams for other presidential candidates should be paying attention.
Estimated Monthly Uniques (US) = 199,369
Stickiness: 37% of visitors are regulars; 20% are addicts
Keyword Affinity: www.obama.com, barak obama, obama
Quantcast says: "Barackobama.com is a top 10,000 site that reaches over 199K U.S. monthly uniques. The site is popular among a primarily older, more educated, primarily female, more African American following."
Estimated Monthly Uniques (US) = 139,649
Stickiness: 42% of visitors are regulars; 14% are addicts
Keyword Affinity: clinton campaign, hillary for president, clinton for president
Quantcast says: "This site reaches over 139K U.S. monthly uniques. The site caters to a more educated, primarily older, slightly female slanted audience."
Estimated Monthly Uniques (US) = 102,053
Stickiness: 55% of visitors are regulars; 6% are addicts
Keyword Affinity: ron paul for president, ron paul
Quantcast says: "This site reaches over 102K U.S. monthly uniques. The site attracts a somewhat male, primarily older following."
I would expect some people may look at the numbers (estimated monthly uniques) and leave it at that. It's easy to suggest that the reason the Barack Obama numbers are higher is because he's the more popular candidate. Is it possible that people on the Barack Obama SEO team are doing anything differently that may be giving them a greater advantage in search engine results? Let's address a few SEO "secrets."
Secret #1: Use the Redirect
When you click on this link: barackobama.com something called a "301 redirect" occurs which delivers your browser to the web page, http://www.barackobama.com/index.php, including the "www" prefix (technically a subdomain). Programming on the web server forces the user to land on the www page. This is good SEO.
The other two web sites don't do this (they should). The Hillary Clinton web site and Ron Paul web site are "splitting pagerank" resulting in their websites appearing as active at the root domain level and the www subdomain level.
Secret #2: Google Loves Subdomains
Quantcast had listed 12 subdomains for the Barack Obama web site but I believe there are more. Take a look at the screenshot on the left. I cut and pasted some first page Google results for the search term "BarackObama" so you could see the effect the web sites numerous subdomains is having on placement in search results.
To see the differences for yourself when comparing the three presidential candidate web sites, perform the search queries listed here. Remember, the Hillary Clinton web site lists 5 subdomains, and the Ron Paul web site lists only 2.
Barack Obama web site subdomains include action, donate, store, Iowa, answercenter, signup, women, faith, students, Illinois, Nevada, my, NH (for New Hampshire), SC (for South Carolina), and others. That is already more than 12 and there is a message on the web site saying "More coming soon" which I suspect means, more subdomains coming soon. This technique could be argued amongst the SEO community but I'll suggest that in this case it is good SEO.
Secret #3: Unique Names Rank Easier
This is not really a secret but more an observation. A Google search for the term barack brings up barackobama.com in the top results. The senator from Illinois is fortunate that his name is unique, even though many Americans don't know the proper spelling. That's okay, as a search for barak, the most common misspelling of this candidate's name, brings up his presidential campaign web site as the number one search result. Interesting.
Thanks to Google's universal search features, Hillary does well, and her official campaign web site comes up at the top. However, according to keyword search reports, there are far less searches for "Hillary Clinton" then there are for "Hillary Duff."
When it comes to names, Ron Paul has the toughest battle here, since the top related results in a Google search, for the term Ron, currently come from Google News. However, the term "Ron Paul" is appearing frequently on the popular web site called Digg, which is appearing at top of Google's organic "Ron" search results.
Since I did the research I thought I'd include this information as well, even if only for trivia purposes. The domain barackobama.com was registered on December 28, 2004, and the ICANN Registrar on file is GoDaddy. The domain hillaryclinton.com was registered October 22, 2001, making it the most aged domain of the three. The domain ronpaul2008.com was registered on November 22, 2006 (the day before that year's Thanksgiving).
I believe all 2008 presidential candidates can learn from the information presented here. The Internet is going to affect the outcome of the 2008 presidential election in a big way. Be sure the people on your SEO teams are the best you can get. God bless America!